United States and American History: 1914

About the history of the United States in 1914, Tarzan created, the Ludlow War labor dispute, World War I begins, first traffic lights,


--Edgar Rice Burroughs conceived a new folk hero for the world: Tarzan of the Apes. The tree-swinging British lord starred in 25 books which were translated into 56 languages.

--Thirty-five thousand workers were killed in accidents on the job and 700,000 were injured. Apr. 20 On Easter night, coal miners striking against John D. Rockefeller's Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. in Ludlow, Colo., were attacked by company guards and National Guardsmen who set fire to the tent camp they had been living in since they had been evicted from their company-owned homes. Among those killed were 11 children and a pregnant woman. By the time the strike, or the Ludlow War as it was called, was over, 74 people had died.

Apr. 21 Awakened abruptly at 2:30 A.M. by the telephoned news that Mexico's President Huerta had arrested American sailors at Tampico, President Wilson issued orders for Admiral Mayo, anchored off Vera Cruz: "Take Vera Cruz at once." The landing party of sailors and marines captured the port, with U.S. losses of 4 dead and 20 wounded. Mexican casualties were in the hundreds.

Later in the morning, Wilson sent for his chief usher, shook an angry finger at him, and gave emphatic orders that he was never again to be awakened for a telephone call in the middle of the night. No man, he said, can make a clear decision when startled out of a sound sleep.

Wilson's selection of Vera Cruz as the target rather than Tampico, was influenced by the knowledge that a German freighter was unloading munitions there, possibly for anti-U.S. use. On the 24th of April, 3,400 U.S. reinforcements left Galveston, Tex., for Vera Cruz and the occupation closed off Huerta's only source of ready cash-from the custom house there. By July he was forced to flee from the country, after which Wilson withdrew the U.S. forces.

June 28 Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, beginning W.W.I. Of greater interest to the U.S. in some newspaper headlines: Suffragettes had marched on Washington.

July 4 Negro Jack Johnson successfully defended his heavyweight boxing championship against Jim Jeffries. Congress immediately enacted Federal statutes, valid for decades to come, which forbade interstate transportation of prizefight film. Its reasoning: Such films were Evil. If they showed a black man winning against a white, it could incite race riots.

Aug. 5 Cleveland, O., motorists obeyed signals from the 1st traffic light in the U.S., installed at Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street. Besides the red and green lights, mounted on cross arms, 15' above the ground, the device had a loud buzzer: 2 buzzes directed the traffic on Euclid to "Go," and one buzz meant "Go" on 105th.

Aug. 19 Elmer Rice utilized a new plot technique called "the flashback" in his play On Trial. It widened story possibilities for the infant cinema industry, just then relocating in Hollywood, Calif., where the "independents" had fled. The future film capital was fortuitously located just over 100 mi. from the Mexican border. Film crews could continue to work in Mexico should the Motion Picture Patents Company win its legal fight to put unlicensed independents out of business in the U.S.

Sept. 14 The New York Times published the erroneous news that 72,000 Russians, traveling via the Arctic port of Archangel, had reached the French lines on the Western Front. Almost complete censorship of battle news by the warning powers led to eager acceptance by the U.S. citizen of all such rumors in the 1st months of the war. The U.S. newspapers also carried many "eyewitness" stories of alleged atrocities committed by Germans.

Dec. 8 Irving Berlin's 1st musical, Watch Your Step, opened on Broadway.

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